Christians and cultural ambiguity


Yesterday’s Catch apparently created a number of favorable tweets. My wife, Marti, thought it contained one of my best sentences ever in, “And even if [government] could get people to behave like Christians, without a relationship with Jesus Christ, they, and we, would be worse off thinking that their compliance with Christian behavior made them Christians.” When I first read her the Catch she assumed that sentence was a Lewis quote, and I must say, to be mistaken for C.S. Lewis was a big boost to my ego.

However, I went from the emotional heights to the depths pretty fast when I got to the last paragraph that she had a hard time understanding. And as I looked at it again, I realized she was right — I could have said it better. So I decided to fix that today, assuming she was not alone in her confusion.

Here is the paragraph:

One of Lewis’s most famous quotes helps us balance our faith and our politics: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Our Christianity doesn’t give us a Christian politic, it gives us a Christian perspective on politics, and because of a certain ambiguity in the views of both, this is not, nor ever will be, a dogmatic, closed position.

My use of this quote (speaking of my best — one of Lewis’s best, in my book) was to make the sun a metaphor for absolute Christian truth, as if there were a political agenda that was particularly Christian to which all Christians should ascribe. Rather, Christianity is the means by which we shine the light of truth on the whole political arena, indeed, on the whole of life. In other words, there are not Christian things; there are Christian ways of seeing things.

At the same time, we have to guard against labels and making dogmatic conclusions about anything cultural. That is the reason for the way I ended the last sentence. We all need to have a Christian perspective as long as our position doesn’t become the Christian perspective on the subject. Truth is truth; the application of truth is not always that self-evident. This is what allows us to be Christian brothers and sisters and hold different positions on just about anything cultural. Indeed, this is a fitting witness to our oneness in Christ: to be one in Christ and yet divergent at the polls. This is not only possible, but healthy.

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1 Response to Christians and cultural ambiguity

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Like to add an Amen to this: “…is a fitting witness to our oneness in Christ: to be one in Christ and yet divergent at the polls. This is not only possible, but healthy.”

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